After making a passionate plea in front of Northern Virginia Republicans, potential state Senate candidate Tito Muñoz got what he wanted — a primary, not a convention, to select the Republican nominee for the 36th district Senate race.
Three GOP representatives, one each from Stafford, Prince William and Fairfax counties, voted Saturday to hold an Aug. 23 primary to find a challenger for Democratic Sen. Linda “Toddy” Puller, who has held the seat since 1999.
“If Republicans believe in equality, opportunity and justice, than we should go with a primary,” said “Tito the Builder” Muñoz, who hasn’t officially declared his candidacy.
Prior to Saturday’s meeting, Muñoz had questioned whether the committee could be unbiased when determining what method to use to select its Republican nominee.
Muñoz said that Prince William’s representative, Paul Ruecker, is a staunch supporter of Jeff Frederick, the ousted leader of the Republican Party of Virginia who has said he is “preparing” to also run for the seat. Muñoz said Frederick would probably choose a convention over a primary, a method Muñoz says is unfair because it doesn’t allow for residents serving overseas to vote.
Ruecker said Muñoz made a good argument for a primary, stressing the need to include military members overseas. But ultimately, Ruecker said, nobody wanted a convention, and a primary was more cost efficient.
Frederick declined to comment on whether he preferred a convention or primary.
“I’ve run in a primary and I’ve run in a convention,” Frederick said. “I will do what I need to do to win.”
This is Muñoz’s first run for public office. He briefly took the spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign when he made an appearance onstage with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the GOP vice presidential nominee, and gained the nickname Tito the Builder. He owns a commercial construction company and is now also a conservative Latino voice on the radio.
Frederick served three terms in the House of Delegates before retiring in 2010. He said he wants to get back to Richmond to promote job creation and “common sense” solutions to transportation problems that plague the region.
A similar group also voted Saturday to host a primary for the 13th District Senate seat. Republicans vying for that nomination include Prince William Supervisor John Stirrup, former state delegate Dick Black of Loudoun County and Prince William resident Bob FitzSimmonds.